Art Market

10 Galleries That Had a Breakout Year in 2022

Josie Thaddeus-Johns
Nov 9, 2022 5:00PM

Installation view of “Where the Wild Things Are” at Afriart Gallery, 2022. Photo by Emma Ekolu. Courtesy of Afriart Gallery.

This year has presented myriad challenges for galleries.

While pandemic lockdowns are still a recent memory in Europe and the U.S., and ongoing in many regions of Asia, the war in Ukraine has presented an entirely new international art world landscape to contend with in 2022. In addition, the global economy is facing a looming recession that is likely to hit small and up-and-coming galleries the hardest.

Despite the obstacles, however, there are several galleries that made 2022 a time to stretch to new heights. This month, I’ve rounded up some of the emerging galleries that have been breaking through this year.

Galerie Myrtis

Based in: Baltimore

Known for: Building a platform for underrepresented artists of color

2022 highlights: A show in Venice and a sale at Christie’s

Installation view of “The Afro-Futurist Manifesto: Blackness Reimagined” at Palazzo Bembo, Venice, 2022. Photo by Federico Vespignani. Courtesy of Personal Structures and Galerie Myrtis.


Myrtis Bedolla set up her Baltimore gallery in 2006 to represent mid-career and established artists who had received insufficient recognition for their achievements. This championing of Black and underrecognized artists took a step up this year, as the gallery launched a partnership with Christie’s to spotlight six of her artists as part of its high-profile “Post-War to Present” sale, including printmaker Delita Martin, photography-based artist Tawny Chatmon, and photographer Larry Cook. These artists were also part of “The Afro-Futurist Manifesto: Blackness Reimagined,” a show that Galerie Myrtis hosted to coincide with the Venice Biennale.

Kiang Malingue

Based in: Hong Kong

Known for: Showing sought-after artists like Brook Hsu and Zheng Bo

2022 highlight: New name, new space, new headquarters

Zheng Bo 鄭波
Pteridophilia II 蕨戀 II, 2018
Kiang Malingue

This past year has brought an all-new look to Kiang Malingue: a new name (reflecting the new business partnership between Lorraine Kiang and Edouard Malingue); a new, expanded exhibition space (in Hong Kong’s Tin Wan neighborhood, designed by local architects BEAU); and a new headquarters (in nearby Wan Chai). The gallery’s activities, meanwhile, have remained rock solid, representing sought-after painters like Brook Hsu and experimental artist Zheng Bo, whose video work was included in “The Milk of Dreams,” the main exhibition at the Venice Biennale.

Swivel Gallery

Based in: New York

Known for: Working with artists in a “family-style arrangement”

2022 highlight: A fresh new outpost upstate

Aris Azarmsa, installation view of “White Rabbit” at Swivel Gallery, 2022. Photo by Cary Whittier. Courtesy of Swivel Gallery.

Swivel Gallery was founded in 2021 on the premise of doing things differently. For example, the Bed-Stuy space donates 10 percent of its profits to local youth-based projects, and rather than the traditional model of signing artists on, founder Graham Wilson prefers a “family-style arrangement.” As Wilson, who built the Brooklyn space from scratch, told Artsy earlier this year, “I’d rather not keep them away from other opportunities.” Now with a second space in upstate New York (in Saugerties, where a project with Kiki Smith has just closed), Wilson is quickly proving himself by showing young and sought-after artists like Ryan Cosbert and Kiah Celeste.

Nicoletti Contemporary

Based in: London

Known for: A warehouse space with an ecologically conscious and experimental program

2022 highlights: Standout debuts at Frieze London and Paris+

Established in 2018 as an itinerant project, and now building an exciting program in an East London warehouse space, Nicoletti Contemporary made it to Frieze London for the first time this year, as well as the inaugural edition of Paris+ par Art Basel. At the latter fair, Nicoletti showed fungal photomontages by French artist Josèfa Ntjam, which were popular with local collectors, and a ceramic sculpture by the artist was placed with a French institution. With adjacent platforms for audio and VR works, this young gallery focuses on ecologically conscious and experimental work.

The Naked Room

Based in: Kyiv

Known for: Showcasing leading Ukrainian artists

2022 highlight: Organizing the Ukrainian pavilion at the Venice Biennale

Kateryna Lysovenko, installation view of “Restless Bodies” presented by The Naked Room at NOME Gallery, Berlin, 2022. Courtesy of The Naked Room.

At Venice this year, there was one pavilion on everyone’s must-see list: Ukraine. The selected organizers, whose task suddenly became infinitely harder after the Russian invasion in February, were from The Naked Room, the Kyiv contemporary art gallery run by independent curators Lizaveta German and Maria Lanko. After overcoming enormous hurdles to show artist Pavlo Makov’s project Fountain of Exhaustion. Acqua Аlta (2022) at the Biennale, the gallerists have been busy representing their roster of Ukrainian artists at events such as Liste Art Fair Basel, Vienna Contemporary, ArtVilnius, and Münich’s Various Others.

Gallery Vacancy

Based in: Shanghai

Known for: A cutting-edge program of young Chinese and international artists

2022 highlight: A standout booth at Frieze Seoul

Vivian Greven, installation view in Gallery Vacancy’s booth at Frieze Seoul, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Vacancy.

It’s been a tough year for galleries in China, especially those in Shanghai, where residents have spent several months of the year in a protracted lockdown. Nonetheless, Gallery Vacancy, which represents young artists influenced by contemporary culture, has a mission to bring its artists’ work to some of the art world’s top tier events this year. At Frieze Seoul, for instance, the gallery showed a solo booth from in-demand painter Vivian Greven. Just a few weeks later, it made its first appearance at Frieze, in the Focus sector with another solo—this time by Michael Ho, who investigates cultural mismatch as a second-generation member of the Chinese diaspora in his paintings.

Between a new, expanded location planned for Shanghai’s city center that will host exhibitions and projects from international galleries, as well as the gallery’s first booth at Art Basel in Hong Kong in 2023 (along with the much-anticipated Art SG), Gallery Vacancy is poised for a promising year to come.


Based in: Berlin

Known for: Showing on major art world stages within a year of opening

2022 highlight: Winning the Galeries Lafayette prize at Paris+

Akeem Smith, installation view of “Queens Street” at Heidi, 2021. Photo by Diana Pfammatter. Courtesy of the artist and Heidi, Berlin.

After leaving her New York job at Gavin Brown’s enterprise following its merger with Gladstone in 2021, Pauline Seguin set up shop in Berlin’s art hotspot of Kurfürstenstraße, under the moniker Heidi. Just months later, the gallery was included at the city’s Gallery Weekend, where Seguin exhibited a video, watercolors, and hanging paper dragons by the renowned American artist Joan Jonas. And scarcely a year after opening, she participated in Paris+ par Art Basel, with a solo booth by artist and creative director Akeem Smith that took home the Galeries Lafayette prize at the fair.

Afriart Gallery

Based in: Kampala

Known for: Introducing Ugandan artists to international audiences

2022 highlight: Two artists representing Uganda at the Venice Biennale

Sanaa Gateja, installation view of “Radical Care” at Afriart Gallery, 2022. Photo by Emma Ekolu. Courtesy of Afriart Gallery.

For Kampala-based gallery Afriart, Art Basel in Miami Beach 2021 was the start of a new chapter. The quartet of portraits by self-taught, sought-after Tanzanian painter Sungi Mlengeya quickly sold out. For 2022, the gallery will be back at the Miami fair again, off the heels of other exciting developments. Sanaa Gateja, for example, was included in the current Carnegie International show, and two artists on the gallery’s roster represented Uganda at the Venice Biennale: Collin Sekajugo and Acaye Kerunen (though the latter has since been picked up by Pace Gallery, Blum & Poe, and Galerie Kandlhofer).

Kapp Kapp

Based in: New York

Known for: Building up the careers of young LGBTQIA+ artists

2022 highlight: Opening a new Tribeca space

In fall 2019, twin brothers Sam and Daniel Kapp decided to start their gallery Kapp Kapp in Philadelphia. They opened a small New York location just before the pandemic shut the world down in 2020, and in 2022, the pair made the leap to focusing full-time on a new space in Tribeca. With the emphasis now clear, the Kapps have been expanding into new opportunities with their roster of mostly young, queer artists. This year saw the gallery’s first booth at The Armory Show, as well as its first publication: a catalogue to coincide with its exhibition of works by photographer Stanley Stellar. Alongside established queer artists of previous generations, the gallery also represents up-and-coming names such as Molly Greene and Velvet Other World.

Gypsum Gallery

Based in: Cairo

Known for: Supporting Middle Eastern artists with investigative practices

2022 highlight: Winning the Frieze Focus Stand Prize in London

Mahmoud Khaled
For Those Who Can Not Sleep, 2021
Gypsum Gallery

The circular bed was rotating, surrounded by dark red wood, and it was a monument to an invisible man who lost his phone, who’s nowhere to be seen. Part of an installation by Mahmoud Khaled that evokes the way we construct memory through absence, Fantasies on a Found Phone, Dedicated to the Man Who Lost It (2022) was the focus of Gypsum Gallery’s booth at Frieze London, and won the Frieze Focus Stand Prize this past October.

The Cairo-based gallery, which was established in 2013, is dedicated to supporting the investigative practices of artists from the Egyptian capital and the Middle East on an international stage. Gypsum also presented in the Feature section of Art Basel in Basel for the first time this year, with a solo booth by painter Ahmed Morsi, as well as An Apology to a Love Story that Crashed into a Whale (2016), a grid of chemically altered photographs by Basim Magdy, in the Unlimited sector.

Josie Thaddeus-Johns
Josie Thaddeus-Johns is an Editor at Artsy.